Government undermines decades of family planning progress.
ST. LOUIS – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today issued a set of interim final rules allowing broad exemptions to required birth control coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The exemptions are expected to allow virtually any employer to deny coverage to employees based on any religious or moral objection.
Mary M. Kogut, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, issued the following statement:
“This is terrible public policy. Nearly all women in our state use birth control during their lifetime. Birth control is a fundamental part of women’s health and has been for decades. Birth control has resulted in greater health equity for women, and advances in women’s ability to excel both educationally and economically. This administration’s actions are short-sighted and not only hurt families, but hurt the economy.
“These interim rules allow employers to impose their own morality onto the women they employ. Undermining access to contraception puts women at a competitive disadvantage in our workforce. A third of the wage gains made by women in the past 50 years are the result of access to oral contraception.
“Birth control reduces millions of unintended pregnancies each year. In fact, today we have the lowest rate of unintended pregnancy in 30 years thanks to 62 million women having access to birth control through the ACA. One-in-three women could not afford birth control prior to that. Contraception has positive health benefits, reduces maternal mortality, and been linked to a reduction in ovarian and endometrial cancers.
“Birth control and family planning are good for business, for educational advances, for health care, and for families everywhere. This administration continues to attack the most fundamental of health care rights by reducing access to contraception.”
BACKGROUND ON BIRTH CONTROL:
The Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision saved women an estimated $1.4 billion on birth control pills in its first year alone. Thanks to this benefit, more than 62 million women now have access to birth control without copayments.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, after the Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision took effect, fewer than 4 percent of American women had to pay out of pocket for oral birth control. That number was more than 20 percent before the law’s passage.
A 2010 Hart Research poll, conducted before the Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision went into effect, found that one in three women voters had struggled to afford prescription birth controls, including 57 percent of young women aged 18 to 34.
The rule comes just weeks after the Senate rejected deeply unpopular attempts to pass Graham-Cassidy, the latest version of Trumpcare, which would have eliminated the requirement that health insurance cover birth control.
According to recent FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, most companies already getting Obamacare birth control waivers aren't even religious groups. Vox reports that in fact, over half of the groups who applied for and received exemptions were for-profit companies and corporations.
86 percent of Americans (including 91% of Democrats and 83% of Republicans) support policies that make it easier to get the full range of birth control methods.
Access to birth control can help reduce maternal and event infant mortality. In 1965, at the time of the Griswold v. Connecticut decision, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that provided the first constitutional protection for birth control, 32 women were dying for every 100,000 live births in America. Today, the rate is less than half that. Infant mortality has fallen even faster – from 25 deaths to six deaths per 1,000 live births.
Women use birth control for a variety of reasons — in fact, 58 percent of all women who use the pill rely on it, at least in part, for something other than pregnancy prevention, including endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome — which is prevalent among women of color — fibroids, and menstrual regulation.
In 2014, Bloomberg Businessweek also ranked the invention of the pill is one of the top 10 most transformative moments in the business sector over the last 85 years. Access to birth control has not just opened up educational and career opportunities for women, but it has catapulted women into more management roles. In fact, a study showed that the pill is responsible for one-third of women’s wage gains relative to men since the 1960s.
Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri has provided high-quality, supportive health care in the region since 1932. They are the area leaders in sexual and reproductive health care, providing contraception, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, education and more to tens of thousands of women and men each year. Patients can make appointments online or by phone at 1-800-230-PLAN(7526).